Section 1 : About this Course
Section 2 : A respiratory Appointment
Section 3 : An appointment for Ear, Nose, and Throat
Section 4 : It may be nothing but lets check that chest pain out
Section 5 : A typical day at work
1 of 2

Management of Costochondritis

About costochondritis

Costochondritis is the medical term for inflammation of the cartilage which joins your ribs to your breastbone (sternum). This area is known as the costochondral joint.

Cartilage is tough but flexible connective tissue found throughout the body, including in the joints between bones. It acts as a shock absorber, cushioning the joints.

Costochondritis may improve on its own after a few weeks, although it can last for several months or more. The condition doesn’t lead to any permanent problems, but may sometimes relapse.

Costochondritis may be confused with a separate condition called Tietze’s syndrome. Both conditions involve inflammation of the costochondral joint and can cause very similar symptoms.

However, Tietze’s syndrome is much less common and often causes chest swelling, which may last after any pain and tenderness has gone.

Costochondritis also tends to affect adults aged 40 or over, whereas Tietze’s syndrome usually affects young adults under 40.

Treatment is the same.

What is the difference between costochondritis and a heart attack?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection, irritation or injury.

Causes of costochondritis – recognising these may mean you can plan your management.

It’s not known exactly why the costochondral joint becomes inflamed, but in some cases it’s been linked to:

  • severe coughing – which strains the chest area
  • an injury to the chest
  • physical strain from repeated exercise or sudden exertion which the patient is not used to – such as moving furniture
  • an infection – including respiratory tract infections (RTIs) and wound infections
  • wear and tear – the chest moves in and out 20 to 30 times a minute, and over time this motion can lead to discomfort in these joints

How could you manage or prevent the following?

Heart attack usually causes more widespread pain and additional symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea and sweating.

Exercise 19: using your previous knowledge and the link above, what would be your management for Pat?